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Blue Jackets Links

Second verse, same as the first.

Monday, July 30, 2007
Before I get back to the grind that is known as apartment packing, I thought it was worth it to check in here at Army of the Ohio after I got an e-mail today from a friend of mine, as well as ran in to this entry by Paul over at Kukla's Korner. In it, the SportsBusiness Journal reveals to us all that the NHL and ESPN -- the self-crowned Worldwide Leader in Sports -- are in the preliminary stages of talks that could bring the league back to Bristol.

Suffice it to say, this definitely got me sitting upright in my recliner after a rather boring summer.

If the comments in Kukla's post are any indication, the possibility of returning to ESPN -- or rather, ESPN2 -- brings about highly mixed feelings, ranging from pleasure to outright disgust. Not that that should come as a surprise to anyone out there or anything.

My thoughts on the matter? Well, it's hard to say right now, considering just how many hurdles need to be gotten over before this would even happen. The preliminary discussions are about putting games on ESPN2 only as soon as the 2008-09 season, for one, meaning NBC will have one full season to bury the NHL with its watered down, Mike Milbury-hosted coverage. Additionally, Versus owns all exclusive rights to the NHL when it comes to cable coverage, meaning they would have to give the green light for this to happen.

Then there's the matter of if any of the games would get coverage on ESPN, and not just ESPN2. Also, would ESPN/ESPN2 only cover the number of games that NBC was obligated to cover under their contract with the NHL? And would all of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals then be stuck all the way on ESPN2? I'm not about to make the presumption that once the Finals roll around, they'd actually air it on ABC ... that's way too much of an optimistic view there.

So for the moment, it's an extremely ugly mess that needs some untangling before any serious considerations or opinions put out by the average fan can be considered legitimate.

Still ... it's an unfortunate reality that if the NHL wants to cling to whatever claim it has left to being the 4th major sport in the United States, ESPN is a necessity. And considering Versus' inability to grab any headline sports to cover outside of the Tour de France and obscure Division I-A football conferences, it would be in its best interest to give the NHL the green light here, so long as Versus gets a bit more coverage in return. The article in SBJ even mentions that they'd like something akin to ESPN's partnership with TNT and their sharing of cable coverage of the NBA.

With that, I am out. I still need to pack up some of my jerseys hanging on the walls in here, along with some portraits. Man, moving is such a pain ... but it'll be so worth it once I'm done.

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The Columbus sports market: serious business.

Monday, July 16, 2007
The Ohio State University might not be something that a Blue Jackets' fan or the Jackets' organization as a whole has to worry about when it comes to competing for the city's recreational money, let alone recognition. It's a reality that no matter what happens with the Blue Jackets, win or lose, the Buckeyes will continue to reign supreme when it comes to the attention they garner from the city and surrounding community.

However as I watched the final seconds tick down on Saturday afternoon as I -- amazingly -- sat through the full Arena Football League National Conference Championship game, and saw my own Columbus Destroyers beat the Georgia Force, I realized that the Blue Jackets have other competition to worry about ... and they need to start worrying about it soon.

For those not in the know, the Columbus Destroyers have always been a modest draw when you compare it to how the rest of the AFL teams do in terms of attendance figures. Their attendance ever since they arrived from Buffalo has had an average of somewhere around 10,000 to 12,000 ... which isn't half bad for Nationwide Arena, which fills to 17,171 for Arena Football games.

To put into perspective just how big of a deal this is that they've gotten to the ArenaBowl for the first time in their history, keep in mind that they've now run roughshod over the two best teams in the AFL in consecutive weeks: the Dallas Desperados (15-1), and the aforementioned Force (14-2). Now they face the San Jose SabreCats (13-3) two Sundays from now for the championship.

And did I mention the Destroyers finished the regular season with a 7-9 record?

While it's true that due to their seeding not a single one of their three playoff games (their first was against the Tampa Bay Storm) was played in the confines of Nationwide Arena, and it's also true that this is ... well ... simply Arena Football, you can't ignore the negative ramifications this could have on the Blue Jackets, who will most likely be spending this upcoming season trying to stand pat with their current roster, before they might open up the checkbook in 2008-2009 once players such as Adam Foote and Sergei Fedorov are off the payroll.

Forgive me if I use the same tried and true excuse that the Red Wings had been beating people to death with during the playoffs as to why they had attendance issues, but the economy plays a factor here in Columbus. People here probably aren't going to have enough money to fund trips to both a mediocre Blue Jackets' team and a Columbus Destroyers team that could very well come back to Columbus with the Foster ArenaBowl Trophy held up proudly over their heads.

There's also the fact that another sports team here in Columbus is starting to bounce back, and with a good push could make their own respective playoffs as well; the Columbus Crew.

Yes, those plucky Columbus Crew, who a good while ago I had just left for dead with an amused chuckle, as they had all of one win, and a plethora of ties and losses. Now, suddenly, they're right behind the logjam in the standings that is fighting for the last spot in the Major League Soccer playoffs.

So suddenly you now have a successful AFL team, an on-the-rise MLS team, and the Ohio State Buckeyes, who were already King of the Hill in Columbus. Regardless of the fact that the NHL is still a "big four" sports league (though that's up for debate nowadays, sadly), a poor on-ice product isn't going to help bring in those fans, keep that attendance respectable despite how bad the team has been, and help with any sort of rebound when it comes to the Jackets' revenue issues over the past two seasons.

But, hey ... maybe the Jackets will surprise us all, make a strong run deep into the season, and somehow manage to draw the eyes of Columbus sports fans away from the Crew and the Destroyers. Though I'd only expect such a thing if they were still in the playoff running as far as early March. If not? Well, when you add on the news from months ago to expect a lesser renewal rate on PSLs, this could turn out to be one ugly season for Mr. McConnell's pocketbook.

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Jackets Media

"Rick" Roll
Created by Skraut

About Me

Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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